Bye and good luck to Bill

This week, Bill Pettigrew, who has been with Nomads club since the 90s, has moved from his flat in Longley to be closer to his daughters in Bridlington. Though he hasn’t been to the club recently, people will remember his lively spirit very well from Eten Café (including his magic acts there!) and at previous venues before that. When we were still at The Harlequin, he gave a lecture on the history of chess in Sheffield: including amusing stories of how the allure of chess had proved the ruin of some people he’d come across in his working life, as well as the saviour for others.

Bill has had a long life, with memories of chess in Sheffield stretching back to the 1950s. Though he didn’t play at the Sheffield Boys’ Working Home where he was brought up (his only chess memories there are of boys using two torn-in-half chessboards as shields against the pieces thrown at each other!), it obviously stirred his imagination – he learned to play later in the army, buying his first chess set in an antique shop in Worcester (close to the Great Malvern barracks where he was based). He first played ‘properly’ in the 50s when he was a constable in Sheffield City Police, as part of the Works League. He was also for a time a member of Association clubs: The Limes first on Barnsley Rd and then Southey in the 60s. In Bill’s memory, there was a clear contrast between the two Sheffield leagues: while the Works was dominated by workers from steel and engineering, the Association was much more the domain of the professional classes. Bill took part in the famous 100-board matches that were played annually between the two leagues, he was part of the 1975 match between Sheffield and Manchester – and going further back well remembers local characters such as Charlie Gurnhill, the strong Sheffield and Yorkshire player of the mid-20th century.

Good luck Bill from players at the Nomads – all the very best and hope you find that chess club in Bridlington!

Nomads 400 vs Barnsley

Nomads 3 1 Barnsley
Eric McKenna (b) 0.5 0.5 Russell Roe
Robert Shaw 1 0 Anthony Steele
Jo Woollard 0.5 0.5 Alan Taylor
Gordon Shaw 1 0 Michael Charlton

Against Eric, Russell played the English Opening, 1 c4. Eric established a solid defensive position, exchanging off knights then bishops, leading to a quiet game which eventually deadlocked. Robert opened with the Italian Game, producing an even-looking position. When Robert managed to gain a queen, Anthony resigned.

Jo felt on the back foot for most of her game, but managed to maintain material parity. After swapping off most of the pieces, she went into the endgame with a rook and five pawns against a rook and six pawns, but extra ten minutes on the clock. Neither player had any clear way to force promotion, so a draw was agreed.

Gordon won a rook for a bishop early on, then gained a bishop before winning the queen, ending up with a queen, two rooks and six pawns, one on the seventh rank, against a single rook and just four pawns, none of them past their fourth rank. Facing mate, his opponent resigned.

Nomads C vs Rotherham B

Nomads C 0 6 Rotherham B
Henry Withington 0 1 A Baxter
Steve Withington 0 1 Chris Willey
Duncan Chambers 0 1 P Sharp
Keith Wickes 0 1 E Sowerby
Les Day 0 1 M Snowdon
Eric McKenna 0 1 C Whitehouse

Rotherham B delivered Nomads C’s worst, and only second, defeat of the season. A confident Nomads side was left wondering what had happened, after losing on all boards. Well played Rotherham.

Andrew Hards vs Kier Morton

Robert Shaw vs Steve Eyre

All comments welcome.

Nomads D vs Ravenfield

Ravenfield Nomads D
David Tate 1 0 Keith Wicks (w)
Steve Eyre 0 1 Robert Shaw
D Hill 0 1 Jo Woollard
Martin Wilkes 0 1 Dave Kesteven
Graham Peacock 0.5 0.5 Gordon Shaw

Robert traded two minor pieces for a rook and pawn early on, then after a misstep won a knight outright before eventually mating.

Jo and her opponent both castled king-side. Jo quickly developed both knights, positioning a bishop on g2, then exchanged two knights for two bishops and won a rook for a knight, ending up in this position:

Facing mate, her opponent resigned.

Keith stated with a knight for bishop exchange, then gained a bishop, leaving him with two rooks, a bishop, and six pawns against two rooks and six pawns, but then David won a bishop back, before swapping off all the pieces. With just pawns left, David promoted, and Keith resigned.

Dave and Martin exchanged off minor pieces, castling king-side, but then Dave gained material, going into the endgame with a rook and five pawns against a knight and four pawns. After some manoeuvring Dave forced promotion, and mate soon followed.

Gordon and Graham swapped queens off early. After some more exchanges he lost a rook for a knight, ending up with a knight and five pawns against a rook and four pawns, then put up a solid defence, reaching this position.

Here, with under 10 minutes left on both clocks, Graham offered a draw, which Gordon quickly accepted.

The big match – Tue 15th March

Both Nomads and SASCA had pulled out all the stops for this Richardson final. The two teams each had an average (live) grade of 193 – and remarkably, players were almost equally matched board for board.

30 minutes in and the quality of the chess was apparent. Jon’s game on 1 was becoming interesting: he’d played …c6 and …b5 to disrupt Oskar’s central pawn setup – and followed up by playing …Nd4, sacrificing a pawn – though there was nothing immediate, we’ve seen Jon play like this before, seizing weaknesses in opponents’ positions, in this case with White’s under-development and exposed king in the line of fire. On the other boards, Paul was a little better against Peter’s Dutch Stonewall, Sam was doing fine in a kind of non-d4 Grunfeld, Chris was a little passive in a kingside fianchetto and d3 setup, Jamie was holding on in the face of Ryan’s Colle, and Daniel was developing a nice positional edge (facing another Dutch Stonewall).

Interestingly it was our top two Black games (Jon on 1 and Sam on 3) which first looked they were potentially tilting our way. Jon’s pressure was starting to pay dividends, while Sam was enjoying more space in a position which now resembled a reversed Benoni. But other games were more worrying: in particular, Paul’s position was turning in his opponent’s favour (Paul later said he’d made a key mistake in allowing Peter’s central pawns to go forward) – and on board 5 Ryan had unleashed a nasty-looking g4 to disrupt Jamie’s d5-e6-f5 pawn formation. Daniel was still better.

And then, Jon’s game exploded into life. Some wonderful piece play – with his opponent’s king still in the centre of the board, his queen, rook and knight appeared to swarm on strong central squares, joined by his black-squared bishop: before too long, the position was overwhelming and Oskar resigned. Something of a relief, with other games definitely more worrying by this stage – including Sam’s increasingly complex game, where nobody watching had a clue of what was going on!

Chris on 4 managed to reach the time control, in spite of his huge time deficit. Paul was in trouble, a pawn down now and positionally worse. Meanwhile Jamie was valiantly attempting to counter his opponent’s initiative, playing on both the king and queensides: but his position was getting very stretched and when Ryan successfully swapped black-squared bishops, it looked very difficult. Daniel was still better, his bishop greatly superior to Deji’s: but his position was simplifying by now and it wasn’t clear how he was going to make further progress.

When Paul resigned and Daniel agreed the draw, it was 1½-1½, with 3 games to go. Sam was clearly on top now – his advancing passed a pawn was posing Yang with enormous problems. But at this stage, we could easily be losing both the remaining two games and with it the match. In fact, things weren’t so simple. In enormous time trouble, Chris was defending Jonathan’s initiative heroically – and on board 5, Jamie was finding great squares for his bad bishop, putting pressure on Ryan and his clock: both players were bashing out moves at this stage. The position was lost but with not more than 20 seconds left Ryan may well have been forced to concede a draw – but then in the chaos Jamie moved into check, giving his opponent an extra 2 minutes to finish things off. Sam had won by now – so 2½-2½, with just Chris’s game left. Opposite coloured bishops meant it was extremely difficult to make any progress: Jonathan graciously conceded the draw, even though he could have run Chris out of time.

So after all the drama (and a great buffet organised by Les), 3-3 and a replay in a few weeks time: can’t wait!

     Nomads I                         SASCA I
1.  Jonathan Nelson  1-0     Oskar Hackner
2.  Paul Cumbers      0-1     Peter Shaw
3.  Samuel Milson    1-0     Yang Guo
4.  Chris Shephard   ½-½ Jonathan Arnott
5.  Jamie Hillman    0-1      Ryan Burgin
6.  Daniel Sullivan  ½-½   Deji Jeje
3-3

James Marley vs Andrew Hards (2016)

Worksop C vs Nomads D

Worksop C Nomads D
Andrew Smith (w) 1/2 1/2 Eric McKenna (b)
Ian Barker 0 1 Robert Shaw
H Osbourne 0 1 Jo Woollard
Alan Story 1 0 Dave Kesteven
A Proctor 1 0 Gordon Shaw
Ross Phillips 0 1 Sam Humphrey

Eric gained a pawn early on, then castled king-side, exchanging queens on move 12, then bishops. Soon after, the position deadlocked, and a draw was agreed.

Robert won a bishop, completely missed a chance to capture Ian’s queen, but still managed to find a checkmate.

Jo and her opponent exchanged off both bishops, then she castled king-side and won the queen, leaving her with a queen, a rook, two knights, and six pawns, against a rook, two knights, and six pawns. Once she developed a strong mating threat Osbourne resigned.

The early exchanges left Dave with a queen, rook, bishop, and six pawns against a queen, rook, bishop, and five pawns. Dave then lost a bishop for a pawn, but delivered mate with his queen and rook.

Gordon won a bishop early on, then swapped one of the rooks off. Soon after, Gordon’s king came under attack. To block the mate threat he would have needed to sacrifice material, and still been left facing connected passed pawns, so he decided to resign rather than play on in an unviable position.

Sam offered Ross his knight on move 9, in an attempt to break open Ross’s pawns, but Ross declined this gambit. However, Sam still got his queen to g6, checking Ross’s castled king, then brought his bishop to h6, before putting his queen on h5, setting up a potential discovered check. Once he drove Ross’s queen off the seventh rank, mate quickly followed, Sam’s first victory for our club.

Sam Humphrey vs Ross Phillips

Robert Shaw vs Ian Barker

All commentary welcome.

Nomads at Doncaster Congress

Six Nomads headed over to take part in the Doncaster Congress last weekend. Held at Hall Cross School, previously all sections have taken place in the main hall, but this year a stage production meant space was restricted, so the Open and Minor stayed put while the Major and Intermediates were spread across nearby class rooms.

A first round bye and three wins in the Open gave Sam 3.5 going into the final round, resulting in a pairing on top board with Laurence Webb (217), the highest graded player in the event. The resultant draw, giving Sam 4 out of 5, meant that Thomas Pitcher, who beat Ali Janooby in the final round, was able to come through and pip them both at the post with 4.5. Sam finishing an excellent joint second.

Henry stepped up in section, entering the Major. He had a tough start, two good close games resulted in losses, followed by the full point bye. A further loss followed in round 4, but he bounced back, beating a 164 in his final game, finishing on 2.

Having being under the weather for the last couple of weeks, John decided beforehand he was only going to play the Saturday. Entered in the Intermediates with a half point bye on Friday, his second round opponent was a no show. John received a full point bye and played out a draw with a lower rated player from the Open. A 3rd round win left him on 2.5 and a pretty good chance going into the final day, but he stuck with his decision and withdrew at this stage.

Keith had a great tournament in the Minor. On three out of three he was joint leader going into the last day. A draw in the morning meant he had to win in the afternoon to be in with a chance of first place, and win he did, sharing 1st with one other player on 4.5. This was Keith’s first ever tournament victory, well done Keith!

Eric continued his recent very good form, a loss in the first round was his only defeat, two draws and two wins followed and he finished on 3.

In Johns absence I decided to keep going and returned on the Sunday. By 11.00am I was wishing I hadn’t, a poor defeat and over three and a half hours to kill before the next game was enough for me to throw in the towel and withdraw, finishing on 1.

Dave Cook vs Robert Shaw

Nomads D vs Woodseats B

Nomads D Woodseats B
Keith Wicks (b) 0.5 0.5 Steve Moon
Eric McKenna 0.5 0.5 Brendan Ashmore
Robert Shaw 0 1 Dave Cook
Jo Woollard 1 0 Michael Mullin
Sam Humphrey 0 1 David Margenson
Ashley Rogers 0 1 Martyn Edwards

Keith was the first to finish. When Steve accidentally touched his own queen, forcing him to lose it, Keith sportingly offered him a draw instead. Eric played the English Opening, leading a deadlocked position, and a second draw.

After much manoeuvring, Ashley was checkmated while Sam’s opponent forced promotion. However, Jo had a strong queenside attack which culminated in mate, with her queen on f7, supported by a pawn.

Early on, Robert traded his queen for a rook and knight rather than losing an whole piece, but blundered away his own knight. Fortunately, he somehow managed to regain a rook, leaving him level on material. After swapping down to a pawn-only endgame, both players promoted on move 40. Robert had a pawn advantage, and a few more minutes on the clock, but didn’t feel this was enough to win, so a draw was agreed.

Brian Crofts vs Henry Withington